• Bowen Yang has opened up about his experience with 'gay conversion' therapy. (Getty Images North America)Source: Getty Images North America
"I’d only seen my father cry when my grandpa died and now he’s sobbing in front of me every day at dinner."
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

28 Jan 2020 - 12:04 PM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2020 - 12:04 PM

Comedian and SNL star Bowen Yang has spoken publicly about his experience with so-called 'gay conversion' therapy, admitting that he tried the debunked practice, which has been outlawed in a growing number of US states, in order to make his parents happy.

Yang made the comments in an interview with The New York Times, in which he recalled the confusion and anger his parents felt when he first came out as gay.

“They just sat me down and yelled at me and said, ‘We don’t understand this. Where we come from, this doesn’t happen,'” Yang recalled.

“I’d only seen my father cry when my grandpa died and now he’s sobbing in front of me every day at dinner. And I’m thinking, ‘How do I make this right?’ This is the worst thing you can do as a child of immigrants. It’s just like you don’t want your parents to suffer this much over you.”

Yang shared that his father eventually booked him in for eight sessions "with a specialist", who ended up being a practitioner of 'gay conversion' therapy.

“I allowed myself the thought experiment of: ‘What if this could work?’” Yang told The Times. “Even though as I read up on it, I was just like, ‘Oh, wait, this is all completely crackers.’”

Yang continued, saying the sessions soon “veered off” into “pseudoscience.”

“It was a cultural thing for them, this cultural value around masculinity, around keeping the family line going, keeping certain things holy and sacred,” Yang reflected on his parents. “It was me wanting to meet them halfway but realising it had to be pretty absolute. It was an either-or thing. There was not that much middle ground.”

Yang said that while his parents aren't all the way there yet, the family remains close.

“I can’t resent them for not arriving at any place sooner than they’re able to get there,” Yang said.

Closer to home, Christian schools and organisations in Queensland have this week launched a fresh attack on the state government's plan to make gay conversion therapy a criminal offence.

According to The Guardian, local group Christian Schools Australia has joined forces with with three other Christian schools organisations, representing a total of 80 schools in Queensland, to fight the legislation, which was introduced in November last year.

Branding the new law “dangerously imprecise”, the religious organisations argued that “genuine” questioning of sexuality and gender identity from students should still be allowed.

“Students must be able to seek advice from school staff about their sexuality or gender identity and school staff must be able to respond to those questions,” they said.

“The Queensland government must guarantee that Christian schools can continue to teach a traditional Biblical sexual ethic and a biologically and medically accurate view of sexuality.”

Last year, Peter Black, president of Queensland Council for LGBTIQ+ Health, welcomed the news that Queensland would be outlawing conversion therapies.

"This ban sends a clear message to Queenslanders that conversion therapy is harmful in all contexts and that people should be nurtured and protected so they can live and love without fear of abuse, ridicule or exclusion," he said.

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